Published: Fri, November 30, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

Elon Musk Smoking Weed 'Not Appropriate Behavior — NASA Chief

Elon Musk Smoking Weed 'Not Appropriate Behavior — NASA Chief

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine elaborated this week on the reasons why the USA space agency launched a safety review of SpaceX and Boeing, which are building spaceships for astronauts, including their workplace culture and drug-free policies.

America's next Moon landing will be made by private companies - not NASA.

NASA's going back to the moon.

This "Moon to Mars" program includes working with global and commercial partners to send humans back to the moon as well as landing astronauts on Mars for the first time.

Characterizing the USA race to the moon "a fledgling industry", he said NASA will rely heavily on the private companies' research and will be affordable.

But both of those companies may be heading to the moon, anyway.

Trump's administration was clear in its directive requesting that the NASA Administrator shall, 'Lead an innovative and sustainable program of exploration with commercial and worldwide partners to enable human expansion across the solar system and to bring back to Earth new knowledge and opportunities.

NASA sees this as a step toward long-term study and human exploration of the moon - and eventually Mars.

"We're going at high speed", said Thomas Zurbuchen, head of NASA's science mission directorate, which will lead the effort.

"The goal of the lunar programs is to ensure national interests at the new space turn".

As part of a push to continue American leadership in space, the Directive instructs NASA to develop a flexible deep space infrastructure to support the increasing complexity of missions.

Forward-looking: NASA promises to put astronauts on the moon once again, but first, its CLPS program needs to deliver payloads of equipment and instruments to the lunar surface.

Cumulatively, the contracts could be worth up to $2.6 billion over 10 years.

Now Draper is in a new, homegrown space race to deliver unmanned craft to the lunar surface.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine described the announcement as "tangible progress in America's return to the Moon's surface to stay".

The approach is unusual for NASA, said Harvard-Smithsonian astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who said NASA usually maintains control down to the "last rivet of a spacecraft". SpaceX expects to start transporting astronauts to the orbiting lab next year; so does Boeing.

Most of the companies involved have never flown a spacecraft of this complexity and scale, and Bridenstine acknowledged that some of the CLPS missions will likely fail to achieve a "soft" landing on the lunar surface.

Bridenstine said he personally ordered the safety review into suppliers SpaceX and Boeing, which was first revealed by The Washington Post.

Firefly Aerospace designs, manufactures and operates launch vehicles for the small satellite and Draper works to provide payload operations guidance systems for the lunar lander.

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